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Environmental Governance
Network facilitated by Te Kawehau Hoskins, Betsan Martin

This network for Responsibility has been generated over the past ten years with links with partners in Small Islands states and the larger countries of the southern part of the ‘Water Continent’ including Australia, Papua New Guinea and Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Responsibilities that we focus on are cultural and environmental interests with special interest in water ecosystems. The vast Pacific Ocean covers more than one third of the earth so water is deeply embedded in our cultures, histories, and horizons. Nowadays, the oceans are increasingly regarded as the last frontier of undiscovered and unexploited resources, and we see the tentacles of strategies to achieve influence reaching into the region from Pacific Rim countries, China, and the US, and from further afield such as the European Union.

Some of this extended presence and influence is in the form of Development Aid. At present there is a big push from the US for the Trans Pacific Partnership, which excludes China and is more about strategic influence and access of multinationals to Asian markets. Interests in minerals and seabed mining are also driving investment in the Pacific region.

Relationships with Pacific Partners…

To build relationships with partners in the region we have attended forums and meetings in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Hawaii and Australia. We mention a Solidarity Economy meeting in the Philippines since this is also in the "Water Continent." The Pacific Roundtable was one of our early points of reference as this is a regular regional meeting of conservation organizations. Another was with the Local Management of Marine Areas network, also a Pacific wide initiative for sustainable management of coastal and fisheries resources.

An approach of responsibility rather than rights for environmental governance is more in keeping with cultures of the region. However the commercial interests which drive development often over-ride traditional values, or there is a lack of precedent in law to put in place environmental safeguards.

The Pacific region is marked by the contrasts between small islands and huge Asian economies. The UN Small Island Developing States Conference in September 2014 has the potential to give weight to these extremely vulnerable countries, in respect of climate negotiations. At present we are working with IUCN to engage in the SIDS conference.

More information: Reflection on Action Document "Ethics and Responsibility in Environmental Governance"

Published on: 13 January 2011
Network contributions
The meeting in Lima aimed at discussing what responsibilities the world must take to address the challenges that the planet is facing, not only related to the climate but also to globalisation impacts and interdependence between countries.
First reflections from the Symposium on Law, Responsibility and Governance held in Aotearoa/New Zealand, on 23-25 November 2014. The Symposium to develop law for Responsibility for water and climate brought fresh winds to the sails of the FER vision of responsibility in sustainable societies.
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